I Know You Remember by Jennifer Donaldson
Jennifer Donaldson is back with another twisted thriller perfect for fans of One of Us Is Lying and Gone Girl.
Zahra Gaines is missing.
After three long years away, Ruthie Hayden arrives in her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska to this devastating news. Zahra was Ruthie’s best friend–the only person who ever really understood her–and she vows to do whatever it takes to find her.
Zahra vanished from a party just days before Ruthie’s return, but the more people she talks to, the more she realizes that the Zahra she knew disappeared long before that fateful night. Gone is the whimsical, artistic girl who loved books and knew Ruthie’s every secret. In her place is an athlete, a partier, a girl with secrets of her own. Darker still are the rumors that something happened to Zahra while Ruthie was gone, something that changed her forever…
As Ruthie desperately tries to piece together the truth, she falls deeper and deeper into her friend’s new world, circling closer to a dangerous revelation about what Zahra experienced in the days before her disappearance–one that might be better off buried.
In her stunning follow-up to Lies You Never Told Me, Jennifer Donaldson once again delivers a propulsive thriller with a masterful twist, skillfully creating a world where nothing is quite as it seems.
I Know You Remember is a pretty messed up book. In a good way though.
The beginning starts with Ruthie living in Portland. Her mom had just died in a hiking accident in front of her and Ruthie keeps replaying it in her head. The way her mom’s eyes looked as she fell. After the funeral, Ruthie has to move back to Alaska to live with her dad, step mom, and step sister. Ruthie’s dad was an alcoholic and that’s why her parents split up. She has never met her step-mom, also a recovering addict) or her step sister, Ingrid. She also hasn’t seen her father in the three years they’ve been gone. The one things that excited Ruthie about moving back is seeing her best friend, Zahra. They only speak by text occasionally and Ruthie expects things to go back to the way they were when they both lived in the trailer park after her mom left her dad.
When Ruthie arrives, she goes to Zahra’s house, but her parents say she’s not there. Ruthie goes to her room and sees a totally different Zahra. Her room is nothing like how it used to be. No books, a bit dull, and there are lots of photos of people she doesn’t know. Zahra’s parents say that she is likely with her boyfriend, Ben, and didn’t come home the whole weekend. Zahra’s parents or sort of free spirits and they were really happy to see Ruthie again.
After finishing AA, her father and step mom started going to Victory Evangelical (fundamentalist church) in Anchorage on Sundays. Ruthie isn’t religious, but she goes with them. This place is scary. The pastor? basically screams about sin and how women need to obey their husbands and they should basically beat the sin out of their children. There was a lot of scripture in the book. I don’t go to church and I’m not religious. Reading those passages where extremely weird for me. I respect other people’s beliefs, but it was obvious that this wasn’t a normal pastor.
Ruthie goes to school and meets some of Zahra’s friends. Tabitha seems to be her best friend and Ruthie tries to talk to her and fit in. She also tries to figure out who Zahra is now and what’s changed since she’s been gone. There was a fight Friday night at a party between Zahra and Ben. Neither were seen after that until Ben came back from a weekend of hunting. Zahra wasn’t with him. Police are called in and her friends and family pull together to make sure it gets press coverage. They worry that since Zahra’s black (her father), she would just be another missing kid that’s ignored. Ruthie makes it a priority to follow clues to find her best friend. She starts spending a lot of time with Tabitha who is almost always drunk, trying to block out all thoughts, and with Ben. There was another girl from the trailer park, Bailey, who went missing a few years back and hadn’t been found. This makes people torn on what they think. Some think Ben killed Zahra and others worry there is a serial killer kidnapping kids. Tabitha worries that Zahra may have killed herself. She had been suffering with depression and panic attacks that started around the time Ruthie left.
Ingrid ended up being a really sweet character that I liked a lot. She did everything she could to be close to Ruthie. They ride to school together with Ruthie driving, but Ingrid is often left behind. Ruthie takes off without telling anyone often. She excuses it as searching for Zahra, but she really should think that others will freak out. Everyone is on edge with Zahra missing.
Ruthie flashes back often to things from the summer before she left. She and Zahra were writing a fantasy book together. Zahra was really her only friend. Ruthie didn’t connect to others well or show her feelings often. There was this old abandoned playground that they made into their own place. It was interesting going back in time through Ruthie’s mind.
I can’t talk about anything else without giving away some of the mystery/twists. I did go back and forth on what I thought happened and who I thought was involved. I was partially right and partially wrong which made me happy. The book had a good pace and was hard to put down.
I gave this book 4 stars. Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for my copy for review.
Warnings for addiction (drugs and alcohol), talk of kidnapping and murder, abuse from parents, talk of suicide, talk of past addiction issues which include child neglect, homelessness, and prostitution, teenage drinking, extreme religious views and punishment, cheating and hooking up, and deaths (including a parent). It’s a typical mystery/thriller, so all the obvious things that you usually see in books with crimes.
Have you read I Know You Remember? Is it on your TBR? Is this a type of book that you would normally read?